Watercress and Beet Salad with Gorgonzola and Walnuts


Joanne Weir Cooking Class Second SeasonGorgonzola is one of Italy's most prized cheeses and, I have to admit, one of my own personal favorites. Combine it with the sweetness of roasted beets and toasted walnuts to make this winter salad. The earthy taste of the beets with the creamy, sharp Gorgonzola and crunchy walnuts makes this gorgeous salad perform a symphony of flavors and textures in each mouthful.

2 pounds medium-size beets (red or gold), washed
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 small head radicchio, torn into 2-inch pieces
3 ounces Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup walnut halves, toasted
1 1/2 cups loosely packed watercress, stems trimmed, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Place the beets in a shallow baking pan and drizzle with the oil and water. Roll the beets to coat with the oil. Season with salt and pepper, cover with aluminum foil, and bake until the beets are tender and can be easily pierced with a fork, 60 to 80 minutes, depending on the size of the beets. When the beets are tender, remove from the oven and let cool. Pour the oil from the bottom of the pan into a small bowl and reserve. When the beets are cool enough to handle, peel the beets and cut them into wedges.

In the meantime, whisk together the red wine vinegar and the reserved oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. In a bowl, combine the beets and radicchio and toss with all but 1 tablespoon of the vinaigrette. Place the beets on a serving platter. Scatter the Gorgonzola and walnuts over the top. Toss the remaining 1 tablespoon of the vinaigrette with the watercress. Season with salt and pepper. Top the beets with the watercress and serve immediately.

Serves 6

TO DRINK: Pinot Grigio